Barnaby Barford: The Tower of Babel




Mon-Sun 10am-5.45pm

V&A Commission

A major sculptural installation created for the V&A by artist Barnaby Barford, The Tower of Babel, told an array of stories about our capital city, our society and economy and ourselves as consumers.

Standing at an imposing six metres high, the Tower was comprised of 3000 bone china shops, each one unique, each depicting a real London shop photographed by the artist. At its base the shops were derelict, while at its pinnacle were the crème-de-la-crème of London’s exclusive boutiques and galleries.

Standing as a monument to the great British pastime of shopping, Barford’s apparently precarious Tower playfully likened our efforts to find fulfilment through retail with the biblical Tower of Babel’s attempt to reach heaven. Explicitly blurring the boundaries of art and commerce, each shop in the Tower went up for sale during its exhibition. With more prestigious but less affordable properties higher in the Tower, Barford confronted us with the choices we ourselves make as consumers, through necessity or desire.

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About Barnaby Barford

Barnaby Barford (b. 1977) graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2002. He works primarily with ceramics to create narrative pieces. Barford is best known for his work with both mass-market and antique found porcelain figurines, cutting up and exchanging elements or adding to and repainting them to create sculptures which are often sinister and sardonic but invariably playful. Following in the tradition of Hogarth, Chaucer, Dickens and Shakespeare, his work explores and celebrates the human condition with a dark sense of English humour and satire.

Barford has shown his work internationally; he has been the subject of several solo exhibitions in the UK and in 2013 a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia, USA. HIs work includes both museum and private commissions, most recently with Louis Vuitton. Barford's last exhibition ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ saw him breaking new ground making large scale ceramic sculpture exploring sin in our contemporary world and its association with the breakdown in community.

London Design Festival

Over nine days in September, the London Design Festival feature hundreds of events taking place across London, showcasing the city's pivotal role in global design. The London Design Festival 2018 will be held 15-23 September, featuring over 400 Partners, Landmark Projects, and V&A Commissions.

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